Mobile Marketing and Gamification in One Neat Package for Brands

Screenshot of SCVNGR menu on iPhoneTwo marketing trends that will continue to grow (per many marketing experts’ predictions) are mobile marketing and gamification. The two go hand in hand, and one startup just may have been ahead of the curve on this.

SCVNGR is a social game played using your mobile phone. Unlike foursquare—which has been much more popular, but still isn’t quite sure how to engage users past check-ins—SCVNGR nailed the engagement factor.

How SCVNGR works

The basics of SCVNGR are similar to foursquare. You download the free app on your iPhone or Android phone. Then you check in at participating locations. Once you check in, you complete challenges to earn points and unlock rewards.

For example, you can get points for checking in, writing a review or taking a photo. You can then share what you’ve done with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Brands can create all sorts of challenges, like the one on the demo video (below) at Boca Grande. You can earn 4 points for Tin-Foil Origami—unwrap the foil from your burrito, fold it into an interesting shape and snap a photo of it.

You’ll know exactly how many points you’ll need to claim a reward (a store discount or other reward). And you’ll see the point-earning options listed on your phone. Once you earn a reward, you show your phone to the waitress or employee of the store and redeem it right away.

Check out the video showing you how to play. And no, that’s not Gabe from The Office talking–it’s Seth Priebatsch, the company’s founder.

Brands are seeing results

GameStop worked with SCVNGR for their launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops. The results they saw were exciting:

  • 17,000 players competed in mobile challenges within just four weeks after launch.
  • 10,000 rewards were unlocked.
  • 4 challenges were completed per player.
  • Users stayed engaged for at least 10 minutes per play.

(Source: Mobile Commerce Daily)

Of course GameStop saw good numbers for their promotion. Their customers are the perfect audience for social games. But other brands are seeing success too. (See a list of current SCVNGR clients here.)

Mobile payments add a valuable twist

So far, SCVNGR has partnered with 1,400 merchants for mobile payments in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, and Chicago.

Screenshot of QR code on mobile phoneLevelUp, their payment app, is pretty simple. Users register a credit card or debit card on the app. They then get their own unique QR code, which they can scan to pay at any one of those 1,400 locations. After each transaction is completed, a receipt is sent to their e-mail.

In 2011, LevelUp passed the $1 million mark in transactions. Now, users spend over $1 million at local businesses per month, using LevelUp. And engagement has been doubling every 5 to 6 weeks. (Source: TechCrunch)

I never really got into foursquare and their mayorships, but I have to say that SCVNGR is something I could totally get into and have fun with. The keys to success are making it easy, fun and rewarding in a tangible way, and SCVNGR and its brand partners seem to be doing just that.

In exploring SCVNGR’s site and articles about them, the biggest negative I’ve seen (other than some early growing pains and mistakes with LevelUp) is their attention to their blog—or “blag” as they call it. The last post is from December 23. For a company that lives or dies by engagement, this isn’t a great example to set. Nitpicking, maybe.

Overall, it’ll be interesting to see where SCVNGR goes or grows. Will another social media site acquire it? Will it die out as competition in the mobile payment space opens up? What do you think?


If you want to read more about SCVNGR, go to Read, Write, Web and read Having Survived Gowalla, SCVNGR’s Path is Clear.



  1. CT you are on to something here. I agree that SCVNGR brings a more appealing twist to the idea of location marketing. It’s a type of gaming where proximity is a factor.

    • ctmarcom · March 13, 2012

      Yes, proximity and creativity. This is something brands could really have fun with, as shown in your post about Toyota’s SCVNGR event.

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